A wildfire that began on Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain Sunday morning has now spread to the University of Cape Town (UCT). So far, the school’s Jagger Library and a campus building containing a prized botanical collection have been severely damaged. Mostert’s Hill historic windmill, private homes, and a restaurant suffered the blaze, too. UCT students and some Cap Town residents have been evacuated.
Additional fires also broke out around Devil’s Peak, a mountain ridge. The first and largest fire is believed to have been started accidentally by a person that is homeless. The cause of each fire is currently being investigated, with arson being suspected. One man was arrested on Sunday for a possible connection with the wildfires, NPR reported.
Firefighters are still struggling to contain the blazes, which are being fueled by high winds. Officials are dousing the flames via helicopters to keep the fire contained, though some areas of the fire are difficult to reach.
According to Ujala Satgoor, the director of libraries for the University of Cape Town, the library’s reading room was destroyed, but the fire detection system prevented the the fire’s spread into other parts of the library.
— Kimon de Greef (@kimondegreef) April 18, 2021
Table Mountain National Park is asking hikers to leave the area, and motorists to remove their cars, until the threat of the fire has passed.